RealTime IT News

Google Video Drops Rental, Sales Business

Effective August 15, Google Video users will no longer be able to access rented or purchased videos for viewing. Users learned Google planned to shutter its download-to-own/download-to-rent (DTO/DTR) business from an email that went out on Friday.

In that email Google described the decision as part of "an effort to improve all Google services

According to Google spokesperson Gabriel Stricker, the discontinuation partly results from the success of ad-supported video content over Google Video and YouTube.

"Both Google and YouTube are exploring a wide variety of ways to monetize online video content -- from pilot testing AdSense for video syndication to trying various ad formats on YouTube -- and the early results have been very encouraging," Stricker told internetnews.com.

Stricker said all users who purchased any video content after the service's inception in early 2006 through July 17 will receive credit equal to a full refund to spend on any of the multitude of merchants registered with Google Checkout. Any user with purchases after July 18 will receive a full refund.

Some users were not mollified.

"Congratulations for just taking a big f**ing crap on my trust in you," one user wrote on Google's discussion boards.

"I am seriously looking into options to get my Gmail archives out of your system. Obviously I can never be able to entrust anything remotely important to Google Docs. I either own my data, or I don't. Obviously it is Google's opinion that I don't," this user wrote.

But though the DTO/DTR feature's sudden cessation may have thrown a few users, it is a move fairly typical of the product development process at Google. Google likes to try ideas for features, monetization and entire products out on users to see if they'll work before committing long term.

In 2006, at a time when now Google-owned YouTube.com was just gaining popularity, DTO/DTR must have seemed to Google like a potentially viable way to monetize Web video. But it didn't turn out to be. Stricker said that refunding cent users spent on rentals and purchases will not have a material effect on the company. It couldn't have been a very profitable enterprise.

But just as movies and books often end with a birth as well as a death, Google popped out a new product Friday just as it announced the demise of another.

In a late Friday post, Google said users can now purchase extra storage in products such as Picasa Web Albums and Gmail. Plans start at $20/year for 6GB with larger plans ranging up to 250GB.